Tesco partners with Olio to reduce food waste in U.K.

1 Oct 2020

Tesco is partnering with the food sharing app Olio to redistribute surplus food nearing its sell-by date from its stores to local communities and individuals that are food insecure. The two companies will roll out this effort across all of Tesco’s 2,700 UK branches.

Collaboration between Tesco and Olio on an ongoing basis follows a successful six month trial across 250 Tesco stores last year. As a result of the initial trial period, the duo redistributed 36 tons of food or 93,000 meals that fed 4,200 people.

Tesco partners with Olio to reduce food waste in U.K.

Food waste is a big concern for both consumers and governments globally. With predictions from the World Economic Forum that it will require a 50% to 100% increase in food production by 2050 to feed the world's population, the question of how to divert food from being wasted is becoming a pressing concern for many. Not only is the feasibility of feeding future populations coming into question, but the cost associated with food waste is staggering. In the U.K., The Guardian reported that households toss £15 billion of edible food, costing families £730 annually.

Supermarkets too contribute to this food waste, albeit on a smaller scale than consumers themselves. According to the United Nations, wasted food, which can be unharvested or disposed of products, amounts to 30% of what is produced. Tesco is looking to combat these statistics with this initiative with Olio that builds on previous promises to reduce waste. In 2009, the supermarket chain committed to stop sending food products to landfills. Then in 2016, the company launched Community Food Connection (CFC) through which surplus food is donated to local charities and community groups. The Guardian reported that monthly, Tesco donates 2 million meals across the UK.

In this newest undertaking, Tesco is relying on Olio’s 8,000 local “Food Waste Heroes” who are volunteers that visit Tesco supermarkets and collect products that are nearing their sell-by date. The food, which is all verified to be safe for human consumption, is uploaded by the volunteers onto the Olio app and then redistributed for free to those who request aid. Pickup is arranged through an in-app messaging system and is then dropped off at a coordinated, contact-free pickup point. During the pilot, it took less than an hour for app users to claim half of all the food listings.

“Right now we want to make sure that any surplus food is being managed and people who need it have access to it,” Tesco head of communities, Claire De Silva said in a statement.

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